Optometric Organizations Reach Agreement on Establishing New COPE Governing Committee

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ORLANDO—The American Academy of Optometry (Academy), the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) and the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry (ARBO) have reached a joint agreement to restructure the governance of the Council on Optometric Practitioner Education (COPE). The newly established COPE Governing Committee will be comprised of representatives from ARBO, ASCO and the Academy to assure collaboration and the ongoing advancement of the quality of optometric continuing education, according to an announcement from the American Academy of Optometry. “After several years of profession-wide discussions, the Academy is pleased to announce that we signed a memorandum of understanding agreement to form a multi-organizational COPE Governing Committee. The collective strengths and unity of our organizations will ensure the highest standards of optometric continuing education and the sustained advancement of the profession,” stated Brett G. Bence, OD, FAAO, and Academy past president from 2015 and 2016.

COPE accredits optometric continuing education for use by ARBO’s member regulatory boards in assessing and determining eligibility for licensure by optometrists. COPE accreditation serves the public, regulatory boards and the profession by promoting improvement in competence, performance and patient outcomes.

Richard Orgain, OD, ARBO president said, “ARBO is pleased to announce this historic collaboration with the Academy and ASCO. We’re looking forward to enhancing communication and broadening decision-making by adding their expertise to COPE. I’m confident that they will make valuable contributions to the COPE accreditation process to have a positive impact on optometrist learning, performance and patient health outcomes.”

“As optometric educators, the faculties from our 23 institutions set high standards for ourselves and for our students,” said David Damari, OD, FCOVD, FAAO, president of ASCO and Dean of Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University. “ASCO is pleased to join our colleagues from ARBO and the Academy on this agreement regarding the governance of and standards set by COPE. This collaborative effort will benefit all optometrists as they continue on the path of life-long learning begun in the schools and colleges of optometry.”

Initial nominations to the COPE Governing Committee are now underway, with the anticipation of completion in January 2019. Duties of the governing committee will include setting standards, policies and procedures for the COPE accreditation program, making accreditation determinations based on compliance with COPE accreditation criteria and policies, and preparing and presenting an annual report to the ARBO House of Delegates and the boards of directors of the participating organizations.